Saturday, August 10, 1985

50 years ago: “Cheek to Cheek” hit #1 for first of 11 weeks

Cheek to Cheek

Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra

Writer(s): Irving Berlin (see lyrics here)


First Charted: August 3, 1935


Peak: 111 US, 15 HP, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 4.81 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

Awards (Ella & Louis version): (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Many of the era’s top songwriters worked with Astaire, smitten by “his debonair touch with a song” TM and dance numbers, usually with Ginger Rogers, which rank “among the most powerful expressions of courtship, love and loss in screen history.” TM Over the years, composer Irving Berlin crafted thirteen songs which landed in Astaire movies – all of which peaked at #15 or higher. “Cheek to Cheek,” which Berlin wrote in a day, was one of three to hit #1. TM It wasn’t just any #1, though; it “became one of Berlin’s greatest commercial successes,” TY spending more weeks atop the pop charts than any other song from 1935. WHC

Berlin used Astaire’s “frail-but-convincing tenor” TM to his advantage writing lines like “And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak” to accompany a melody which jumped up to a note Astaire could barely sing. TM

The dance sequence for the song became he and Ginger Rogers’ “most famous romantic duet,” but it was not without problems. SB When Astaire sang and danced to it in the 1935 film Top Hat, Rogers wore a gown covered with ostrich feathers which, to Astaire’s horror, shed with every dance movement.” SB He later said, “It was like a chicken attacked by a coyote, I never saw so many feathers in my life.” SB

Despite Astaire’s reaction, Rogers was determined to wear the dress. Seamstresses were able to largely resolve the problem in time for another shoot the next day, but some hard feelings lingered. Astaire and Hermes Pan, the film’s choreographer, “serenaded Rogers with a parody of the song: ‘Feathers – I hate feathers/ And I hate them so that I can hardly speak/ And I never find the happiness I seek/ With those chicken feathers dancing/ Cheek to Cheek.’” SB Astaire later gave Rogers a small gold feather for her charm bracelet as well as a note saying, “Dear Feathers, I love ya! Fred.” SB

“Cheek to Cheek” garnered an Academy Award nomination for best song. Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, and Doris Day recorded the song as well. MM It also became a jazz standard being recorded by notables such as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Fred Astaire
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Leo Reisman
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Irving Berlin
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Louis Armstrong
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Ella Fitzgerald
  • MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Page 154.
  • SB Songbook blog
  • TM Time magazine (10/24/2011). “All Time 100 Songs
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 52.

First posted 7/30/2014; last updated 4/22/2021.

Monday, August 5, 1985

John Cougar Mellencamp released Scarecrow

First posted 6/22/2010; updated 9/20/2020.

Scarecrow

John Cougar Mellencamp


Released: August 5, 1985


Peak: 2 US, -- UK, 2 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 5.4 US, -- UK, 5.4 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic heartland rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Rain on the Scarecrow (Green/ Mellencamp) [3:45] (9/21/85, 21 US, 16 AR, 34 AU)
  2. Grandma’s Theme (public domain) [0:55]
  3. Small Town [3:41] (9/14/85, 6 US, 2 AR, 13 AC, 53 UK, 13 CN, 80 AU)
  4. Minutes to Memories (Green/ Mellencamp) [4:11] (1/18/86, 14 AR)
  5. Lonely Ol’ Night [3:45] (8/17/85, 6 US, 1 AR, 37 AC, 7 CN, 32 AU)
  6. The Face of the Nation [3:13]
  7. Justice and Independence ‘85 [3:31] (11/30/85, 28 AR)
  8. Between a Laugh and a Tear [4:30]
  9. Rumbleseat [2:57] (6/28/86, 28 US, 4 AR, 84 AU)
  10. You’ve Got to Stand for Somethin’ [4:31]
  11. R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. [2:54] (9/14/85, 2 US, 6 AR, 36 AC, 67 UK, 7 CN, 18 AU)
  12. The Kind of Fella I Am [2:56]

Songs written by John Mellencamp unless otherwise noted.


Total Running Time: 40:49

Rating:

4.419 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)


Quotable: “One of the definitive blue-collar rock albums of the mid-‘80s.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

Uh-Huh found John Mellencamp coming into his own, but he perfected his heartland rock with Scarecrow.” STE “Though the comparison has often been applied to him unfairly, it’s fair to say that Scarecrow is to John Cougar Mellencamp what Born in the U.S.A. is to Bruce Springsteen: a hugely popular hit that solidified both his fan base and his critical reputation. The one important difference is that U.S.A.’s message was largely misinterpreted (Ronald Reagan co-opted the title song in a manner that’s tragically ironic), while Scarecrow’s ode to Mellencamp’s native Indiana comes through loud and clear.” RS

The album was Mellencamp’s third in a row to reach multi-platinum status, hit the top 10, and spawn at least two top-10 singles. In regards to the latter, this could arguably be considered his most successful album in that it sent three songs into the top ten – “Lonely Ol’ Night,” “Small Town,” and R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.. The latter, an ode to his rock-n-roll roots, became his most successful single since 1982’s #1 “Jack and Diane.”

Scarecrow is “a loose concept album about lost innocence and the crumbling of small-town America,” STE even more specifically “the hopes and fears of Middle America.” STE Mellencamp’s “writing has never been more powerful” STE especially on songs like Rain on the Scarecrow when he laments the plight of the American farmer and on Small Town when he celebrates small community life, singing “No I cannot forget where it is that I come from / I cannot forget the people who love me / Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town.”

Songs like “Lonely Ol’ Night and Rumbleseat effortlessly convey the desperate loneliness of being stuck in a dead-end life.” STE “While the rest of the album isn’t quite as strong, that’s only a relative term, since it’s filled with lean hooks and powerful, economical playing that make Scarecrow one of the definitive blue-collar rock albums of the mid-‘80s.” STE


Notes: A reissue of the album added an acoustic version of “Small Town.”

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, August 3, 1985

Madonna hit #1 in the UK with “Into the Groove”

First posted 11/28/2020.

Into the Groove

Madonna

Writer(s): Madonna, Stephen Bray (see lyrics here)


Released: July 15, 1985


First Charted: April 27, 1985


Peak: 6 RR, 19 RB, 14 UK, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.6 US, 1.5 UK, 4.1 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 65.17 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Into the Groove” was Madonna’s #1 song that wasn’t. The song came out while the Like a Virgin was being promoted, so it was decided not to released it as a single for fear that it would compete with “Angel,” the album’s third single. WK A similar problem had already occurred with second single “Material Girl” coming out at the same time as “Crazy for You” from the Vision Quest soundtrack. Considering that those songs hit #2 and #1 respectively, it’s hard to understand the logic of not releasing “Into the Groove,” but that was the call.

While the lack of an official single made the song ineligible for the Billboard Hot 100, it became Madonna’s most played song on the recurrent airplay chart. It also hit #19 on the R&B chart and was released as the B-side of “Angel.” The pair of songs reached the top of the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. WK The song also charted in the UK, where it became Madonna’s first #1 and her biggest selling song in the country. WK

Madonna originally wrote the song for her friend Mark Kamins’ protégée Chyne, but kept it to use for the movie Desperately Seeking Susan. The song didn’t end up on the soundtrack, but was added to the 1985 worldwide reissue of Like a Virgin. Regarding the song being about dancing, Madonna told Q magazine, “I started off wanting to be a dancer, so that had a lot to do with the song. The freedom that I always feel when I’m dancing, that feeling of…letting yourself go, expressing yourself through music. I always thought of it as a magical place.” CR

J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography, said the song demonstrated her ability to create infectious dance music. WK Clive Barker and Simon Trussler, authors of New Theatre Quarterly, said the song was the first disco-anthem of the 1980s. WK Author Matthew Rettenmund called it the ultimate 1980s song. WK Billboard readers concurred, voting it the Song of the 1980s. SF “All the magic of the ‘80s is right here.” CR


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Madonna
  • DMDB page for parent album Like a Virgin
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 243.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia